Time Quintet

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Time Quintet
Spines of the first four books in the Time Quintet in their original hardback dust jackets

A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
The Arm of the Starfish
Dragons in the Waters
A House Like a Lotus
An Acceptable Time
Author Madeleine L'Engle
CountryUnited States
Genre Young adult, science fantasy
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published1962 – 1989
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)

The Time Quintet is a fantasy/science fiction series of five young adult novels written by Madeleine L'Engle.


Publishing history

The series originated with A Wrinkle in Time , written from 1959 to 1960 and turned down by 26 publishers before Farrar, Straus and Giroux finally published it in 1962. A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Medal and has sold over 6 million copies. The sequel, A Wind in the Door, takes place the following year but was published over a decade later, in 1973. A Swiftly Tilting Planet, set ten years after A Wrinkle in Time, followed in 1978. The fourth title of the quintet, Many Waters, was published in 1986, but takes place several years before A Swiftly Tilting Planet. This is readily apparent from the fact that Sandy and Dennys Murry are in high school as of Many Waters, but refer to their college studies at the time of A Swiftly Tilting Planet; and from Meg's unmarried status as of Many Waters. The final title in the series is An Acceptable Time , published in 1989.

All five titles have been published in numerous editions over the years, with occasional changes in cover art and, in 1997, a new introduction by L'Engle for the Dell Laurel-Leaf paperbacks. The books have also been packaged as a box set, first (before the publication of Many Waters) as the Time Trilogy, next as the Time Quartet, and finally in its entirety as the Time Quintet.

In May 2007, the books were reissued under the Square Fish imprint in both mass market and trade paperback form. Both editions include new cover art, "An Appreciation by Anna Quindlen", a "Questions for the Author" interview, and the text of Madeleine L'Engle's Newbery Medal acceptance speech, published under the title "The Expanding Universe".


This series follows the lives of Meg Murry, her youngest brother Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe as they try to save the world from evil forces. The remaining Murry siblings, twins Sandy and Dennys Murry, take up the struggle in one volume from which the other protagonists are largely absent. A further book about Polyhymnia O'Keefe, the eldest child of Meg and Calvin, features several characters from the other novels and completes the Time Quintet.

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Meg Murry, a middle-school-aged girl who is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother Charles Wallace, her friend Calvin O'Keefe and three mystical beings called Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. They help them to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet.

A Wind in the Door

Meg, Calvin and the disagreeable school principal Mr. Jenkins have to travel inside one of Charles Wallace's mitochondria to save him from a deadly disease, part of a cosmic battle against the evil Echthroi and the forces of "Unnaming".

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Charles Wallace must save the world from nuclear war by going back in time and changing might-have-beens, accompanied in spirit (through kything) by Meg at home.

Many Waters

Twins Dennys and Sandy accidentally play around with their father’s computer, sending them into Mr. Murry's experiment and back in time to the pre-flood days of Noah. They befriend his family, a group of seraphim, and some miniature mammoths.

An Acceptable Time

Meg and Calvin's eldest daughter, Polyhymnia O'Keefe, visits her maternal grandparents only to find herself trapped 3,000 years in the past, caught up in a struggle between the People of the Wind and the warlike, drought-stricken People Across the Lake.


The exact time period is never given, but the stories seem to take place in the 1960s and 70s. Since the series was written over the course of decades, it is not possible to establish an exact year in which each story takes place; historical events mentioned in the books (such as the dates of the Apollo space program and the name of the President of the United States) do not always correspond to the "real world". In recognition of this, and of the cosmic nature of the series, the inside front cover of Many Waters states that the series is set in Kairos, a way of looking at time as "real time, pure numbers with no measurement", [1] reflecting her belief that "God's time and our time are not the same". [2]

Each of the books contains one or more instances of tessering, carrying the protagonists to metaphysical battlegrounds in the cosmic struggle between good and evil. The eponymous "wrinkle in time" is a short hop to the immediate past engineered by the Mrs. Ws to allow Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace to accomplish their mission and return before they are missed at home. In A Wind in the Door, Proginoskes takes Meg to "yesterday" to show her the Echthroi destroying a patch of stars. Charles Wallace spends most of A Swiftly Tilting Planet "Within" the bodies and minds of people from the past, traveling there by a winged unicorn. Many Waters finds Sandy and Dennys stranded in the time of Noah after using their father's computer while an experiment is in progress.

The world of L'Engle's characters is filled with fictional place names, often taken from mythological figures that relate symbolically to the locale. For example, the planet Ixchel in A Wrinkle in Time, where Meg is cared for by a motherly sightless creature with tentacles, is named for Ixchel, a Mayan moon goddess. Other, more mundane locations are often fictionalized versions of places L'Engle has lived or visited in the real world, such as L'Engle's Connecticut home, which strongly resembles that of the Murry family. [3]


The main characters (protagonists) in the Time Quintet are:


The Time Quintet shows themes of love, loss, friendship, loneliness and the triumph of good over evil. L'Engle often borrows elements from the Bible in a way similar to C. S. Lewis, one of her favorite authors. In A Wrinkle in Time, for example, the beautiful creatures of Uriel sing a psalm, and Mrs. Who quotes St. Paul; and angelic characters — the three "Mrs. Ws", the "singular cherubim" Proginoskes, and the seraph Adnarel (who aids just Sandy and Dennys, in “Many Waters”), among others — aid the Murrys and Calvin, but still leave the humans to make their own difficult choices. Another theme which echoes Lewis's work is that phenomena which human perception classifies as "science", "religion" and "magic" are in actuality part of a single seamless reality.

L'Engle has written four books featuring the children of Calvin and Meg O'Keefe, especially their eldest daughter, Polyhymnia O'Keefe, and their eldest son, Charles. These are, in order of both publication and character chronology:

These also take place in a Kairos framework, although only The Arm of the Starfish and An Acceptable Time have the characteristic science fantasy elements to any great extent. Taken together, the eight books are called the "Murry–O'Keefe" series. The O'Keefe books further connect, through such characters as Adam Eddington, Canon Tallis and Zachary Gray, to the Austin family series of books, which take place primarily in "chronos" (or "ordinary, wrist-watch" time). [1] Further overlaps between characters connect virtually every L'Engle novel into one large series of books.

Movie adaptations

In 2003, A Wrinkle in Time was adapted into a television movie by Disney.

A 2018 film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time directed by Ava DuVernay was released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Related Research Articles

Murry may refer to:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madeleine L'Engle</span> American Writer (1918–2007)

Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young adult fiction, including A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. Her works reflect both her Christian faith and her strong interest in modern science.

<i>A Wrinkle in Time</i> 1962 science fantasy novel by Madeleine LEngle

A Wrinkle in Time is a young adult science fantasy novel written by American author Madeleine L'Engle. First published in 1962, the book won the Newbery Medal, the Sequoyah Book Award, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The main characters – Meg Murry, Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O'Keefe – embark on a journey through space and time, from galaxy to galaxy, as they endeavor to rescue the Murrys' father and fight back The Black Thing that has intruded into several worlds.

<i>Many Waters</i> 1986 novel by Madeleine LEngle

Many Waters is a 1986 novel by American writer Madeleine L'Engle, part of the author's Time Quintet. The title is taken from the Song of Solomon 8:7: "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man were to give all his wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned."

<i>A Wind in the Door</i> 1973 novel by Madeleine LEngle

A Wind in the Door is a young adult science fantasy novel by Madeleine L'Engle. It is a companion book to A Wrinkle in Time and part of the Time Quintet.

<i>A Swiftly Tilting Planet</i> 1978 science fiction novel by Madeleine LEngle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet is a science fiction novel by Madeleine L'Engle, the third book in the Time Quintet. It was first published in 1978 with cover art by Diane Dillon.

<i>The Arm of the Starfish</i> 1965 novel by Madeleine LEngle

The Arm of the Starfish is a young adult novel by Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1965. It is the first novel featuring Polly O'Keefe and the O'Keefe family, a generation after the events of A Wrinkle in Time (1962). The plot concerning advanced regeneration research puts this novel in the science fiction genre, but it could also be described as a mystery thriller.

Meg is a feminine given name, often a short form of Margaret, Megan, Megumi (Japanese), etc. It may refer to:

<i>An Acceptable Time</i> 1989 book by Madeleine LEngle

An Acceptable Time is a 1989 young adult science fiction novel by Madeleine L'Engle, the last of her books to feature Polyhymnia O'Keefe, better known as Poly or Polly. Marketed as part of the author's Time Quintet, An Acceptable Time connects Polly's adventures with those of her parents, Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe, which take place a generation earlier. The book's title is taken from Psalm 69:13, "But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, at an acceptable time."

<i>A House Like a Lotus</i>

A House Like a Lotus (ISBN 0-374-33385-8) is a 1984 young adult novel by Madeleine L'Engle. Its protagonist is sixteen-year-old Polly O'Keefe, whose friend and mentor, Maximiliana Horne, has sent her on a trip to Greece and Cyprus. As she travels, Polly must come to terms with a recent traumatic event involving Max. The history of Polly's relationship with Max is told in flashback over the course of the novel. The use of double quotes distinguishes the present, whereas single quotes indicate flashbacks from the past.

Victoria "Vicky" Austin is one of Madeleine L'Engle's frequently used fictional characters, appearing in eight books and referred to in at least one more. She is the protagonist of the Austin family series of books being the first person narrator of Meet the Austins, The Moon by Night, A Ring of Endless Light, Troubling a Star, and the picture book The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas. A developing poet and writer, Vicky observes the everyday events in her large family, dates several boys, communicates with dolphins, faces the occasional mortal danger, and reflects on important issues about life and death, faith and family as she gradually comes of age.

<i>The Moon by Night</i> 1963 young adult novel by Madeleine LEngle

The Moon by Night (ISBN 0-374-35049-3) is the title of a young adult novel by Madeleine L'Engle. Published in 1963, it is the second novel about Vicky Austin and her family, taking place between the events of Meet the Austins (1960) and The Young Unicorns (1968), and more or less concurrently with the O'Keefe family novel The Arm of the Starfish. The book marks the first appearance of the character Zachary Gray, who dates first Vicky and then Polly O'Keefe. Although Vicky will later appear in three novels that have fantasy and/or science fiction themes, there are no such elements in The Moon By Night.

<i>The Young Unicorns</i>

The Young Unicorns (1968), ISBN 0-374-38778-8) is the title of a young adult suspense novel by American writer Madeleine L'Engle. It is the third novel about the Austin family, taking place between the events of The Moon by Night (1963) and A Ring of Endless Light (1980). Unlike those two novels and Meet the Austins (1960), it does not center on Vicky Austin specifically, but on a family friend, Josiah "Dave" Davidson.

<i>A Wrinkle in Time</i> (2003 film) 2003 television fantasy film

A Wrinkle in Time is a 2003 television fantasy film directed by John Kent Harrison from a teleplay by Susan Shilliday. The film, a Canadian and U.S. production, is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle. It is produced by Walt Disney Television, Dimension Television, Fireworks Entertainment, and The Kerner Entertainment Company. The film stars Katie Stuart, Gregory Smith, David Dorfman, Chris Potter, Kyle Secor, Seán Cullen, Sarah-Jane Redmond, Kate Nelligan, Alison Elliot, and Alfre Woodard.

Madeleine L'Engle, an American novelist, diarist and poet, produced over twenty novels, beginning with The Small Rain (1945), and continuing into the 1990s with A Live Coal in the Sea (1996). Many of her fictional characters appeared in more than one novel, sometimes in more than one series of novels. Other major characters are the protagonists of a single title. This article provides information about L'Engle's most notable characters.

<i>Dragons in the Waters</i>

Dragons in the Waters (ISBN 0-374-31868-9) is a 1976 young adult murder mystery by Madeleine L'Engle, the second title to feature her character Polly O'Keefe. Its protagonist is thirteen-year-old Simon Bolivar Quentin Phair Renier, an impoverished orphan from an aristocratic Southern family. The title comes from Psalm 74:13.

Madeleine L'Engle has published more than fifty books, including twenty-three novels, virtually all of them interconnected by recurring characters and locales. In particular, L'Engle's three major series have a consistent geography, including a number of significant fictional locations. These generally fall into two categories:

Maximiliana Sebastiane (Max) Horne is a major character in Madeleine L'Engle's novel A House Like a Lotus. A friend of Sandy Murry, she befriends and mentors Polly O'Keefe.

<i>A Wrinkle in Time</i> (2018 film) 2018 American science fantasy adventure film

A Wrinkle in Time is a 2018 American science fantasy adventure film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, based on Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 novel of the same name. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Whitaker Entertainment, the story follows a young girl who, with the help of three astral travelers, sets off on a quest to find her missing father. The film stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Storm Reid, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine.


  1. 1 2 L'Engle, Madeleine (1986). "The L'Engle Family Tree". Many Waters . New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN   0-374-34796-4.
  2. L'Engle, Madeleine (1993). The Rock That is Higher: Story as Truth. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers. p.  93. ISBN   0-87788-726-8.
  3. L'Engle, Madeleine (1972). A Circle of Quiet. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. pp. 5–6, 21, 66, 217–18. ISBN   0-374-12374-8.